The residents of Mrkonjic Grad today celebrate Municipality Day, which was established in memory of February 4, 1996, when Mrkonjic Grad residents returned to their homes after five months of exile.
On that occasion, a commemorative service was said at the chapel of St. Marko for veterans killed in the Homeland War, after which delegations of the Municipality and the Veterans Organisation laid flowers at the mass grave memorial at the Orthodox cemetery and at the central monument to fallen soldiers in front of the Cultural Centre.
Mrkonjic Grad mayor Divna Anicic said it is sad that fully 17 years after the war, no one has been brought to justice for war crimes committed in this town and that the hope remains that in the end, someone will finally be prosecuted for these crimes.
“We are witnesses to the fact that Croatian Generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac were not tried for the crimes committed in the Storm operation, and this really leaves a taste of bitterness. We wait and believe that some future generation will see this done and that Croatia will face justice,” Anicic said.
One of the largest mass graves in Republika Srpska, containing 181 bodies, was discovered in Mrkonjic Grad. Autopsies revealed that all the victims were bestially tortured and killed.
In addition to this mass grave, there were a number of smaller graves from which a total of 364 bodies were exhumed.
The families of the victims say they are embittered that no one has been brought to justice for these crimes, even though all necessary evidence is available, those who ordered the crimes are known, and documentation was surrendered to Prosecutions.
Mrkonjic resident Zdravko Karac, who found the mortal remains of his brother in the mass grave, says that the sight was horrific.
“I initiated the opening of the grave. It was a disaster; you cannot even imagine what I saw. They were all brutally killed, including my brother. And after so much time, it seems to me that these cases are wilfully kept concealed,” Karac said.
Milan Stevanic, the president of the Municipal Veterans Organisation, called on all prosecutors to open the case of the mass grave in Mrkonjic Grad.
1,214 bodies have been exhumed in Mrkonjic Grad so far, and another 420 persons are listed as missing.
In 117 days of aggression against Mrkonjic Grad Municipality, Croatian forces destroyed and torched 2,308 housing units, some 3,000 were ruined and looted, and the war damage was estimated at some KM 670 million.
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